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5 Ingredients for a Successful Mobile Standard

Last week, I was lucky enough to spend a few days in London at the 2010 Tate Handheld Conference where a group of really smart folks were gathered to plan and brainstorm ways that museums can take advantage of new advances in mobile technology.

Planning the Future of Museum Mobile Experiences @ Tate

Many of you may know that the IMA has been really active in building mobile content for our main website, our special exhibitions, and 100 Acres.  One of the things I love about working at the IMA is that we always try to give a little love back to our museum buddies when we undertake new projects.  That’s why we’ve made all the software for these mobile experiences available for free to anyone who’d like to play around with them.

While I’m happy that many museums can pick these tools up and use them for their own content, it won’t be the right solution for everyone.  In fact, it only solves just part of the problem.

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Have it Your Way: Results from our 2 Minute Mobile Survey

Thanks to everyone who participated in our survey last week! Your feedback means a lot to us and has provided some interesting insights into how this little segment of our audience is thinking about mobile tours. As promised, here are the results we got from last weeks questions. I’ll generally try to summarize a bit and I’d be really interested in your thoughts / comments about what you see in the data too.

The graph below shows that most people are really intrigued by the possibilities of accessing mobile content from their own devices, follow by slightly fewer respondents who felt like they’d prefer to rent a device that was guaranteed to work.  If you’ve been following the blog, you’ll know that we most recently released a tour for the 100 Acres park that anyone with a internet-capable smartphone can experience. (visit on your mobile phone and look for 100 Acres)  Internally at the IMA we’re still looking for that “right” balance between devices that we maintain and a user’s own device.  We’d be interested in your feedback in the comments if you have a good thought or opinion.

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Have it Your Way: Help us plan our next mobile tour!

Have it Your Way!

Well, our intrepid team of media and software guru’s are busy preparing to launch our first outdoor mobile content tour to highlight the opening of 100 Acres this weekend.  Folks are a little bit frazzled and wishing for the sunshine, but I think we’re all universally excited about the incredible stories there are to tell in the park.

While we’ve ironed out our initial set of tour content for 100 Acres, we could use your help in planning the next great escapades we undertake for mobile content.  So, in the great tradition of McDonalds… if you could “Have it Your Way”, what should our next mobile tour look like?

If you’ll answer a few of these questions, I promise to come back next week and share with the class all we’ve learned from your responses!  We’ll take the best ideas from this survey and see if we can wrap them into our next mobile tour!

Thank You! -Rob


5 reasons why TAP should be your museum’s next mobile platform

So, we’ve been talking about TAP a lot recently and hopefully you’ve been able to get a good sense of our thinking and direction from our previous blog posts (Tap Into It, Tap Analytics, An Early Look at TAP) and from our descriptions on the Museum Mobile Wiki.

We’ve promised this for a while, and today I’m pleased to announce that we have released ALL of the materials and source code we’ve used to make TAP as open-source, and freely available to the museum community.  I think it’s clear to many of us that mobile content and interpretation is an incredible opportunity for cultural organizations and the role we play in engaging and educating audiences about our collections and programming. Our hope is that the contribution of TAP might spur collaboration and contribution from other museums to further develop a tool – owned by the community – that can power and deliver those mobile experiences to the public.

I think it’s important for us to explain some of the foundational ideas behind TAP, and why museums might choose this direction over so many of the other options.  In that light here are:

5 reasons why TAP should be your museum’s next mobile platform

  1. First-Class Content Management
  2. Open-Source, community owned, freely available
  3. Open Standards (TourML)
  4. Multi-Platform
  5. Intuitive and Tested Mobile Client

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Behind the Scenes with IMA’s New Website

SPOILER ALERT: If you’d rather skip all the words and play with the new site, scroll to the end of this post, find the groundhog and watch the short video for login instructions.

One great pleasure of working in a creative environment like an art museum is that on occasion, we actually get to create things that are unique, tangible, and if we’ve done our job… useful.

Matt Gipson - Web Designer Extraordinaire

It’s one of the reasons I love to cook.  The process of pulling together all the right ingredients and a little skill to create a delightful experience that can be shared with others seems so personal, meaningful, visceral.  In short, very different from most of what keeps me busy on most days. So, it was a great honor to have the chance over the last six months to work together with so many talented staff from around the museum in creating and reformulating a new website for the IMA.

Over the last several years, the IMA has invested a lot of energy and resource in understanding and making use of the web in ways that help the museum meet its goals and carry out its mission.  Along the way, we’ve learned a lot.  We are constantly learning from our audience and visitors – watching the way they interact with content, reading comments, and listening to feedback.  We’ve learned immensely through our relationships and collaborations with other museums about what has worked and not in the past and about new thoughts, strategies and approaches we might try.  If I’m honest, we’ve definitely learned the most from our failures.  Hopefully, we’ve disguised most of them cleverly, but come join us for a beer in the cafe and we’ll share a bunch of the “less-than-superstar” moments.

In talking about how we might launch this new site we’ve been working so hard on, it only seemed right to give the first sneak peeks and behind-the-scenes privileges to our online followers.  So, like any great dish, this one’s hot off the grill and just for you!

One of the first things you’ll notice about the new website is that we’ve gone with a completely different design-feel from our earlier site.  Part of this is inspired by a new brand for the IMA which you’ll notice featured prominently across the site.  We wanted to shoot for a design that is clean and well structured, but still very visual and full of color.  You’ll notice that we stuck to a consistent grid layout on the site which lets us be pretty modular in the way we mix and match content.

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About Rob

Job Title: Deputy Director for Research, Technology, and Engagement Interests: Anything related to coffee, hanging with the my fam, cooking crazy stuff, strategy games, camping / hiking / exploring, the Colts, watching TV, watching TV. Favorite Movies: Run Silent Run Deep, The Princess Bride, Gladiator, Young Frankenstein, Hunt for Red October. Favorite Music: Jazz: Dizzy, Miles, Stan Getz, Oscar Peterson, Sonny Rollins, Lee Morgan, Freddy Hubbard, Chet Baker, Charlie Parker, Ray Charles, Coltrane, early Tito Puente... Favorite Food: Gumbo!, seafood of any kind, good beer. Pets: a giant yellow lab named Tana, a pretty little kitty named Nosy. Something you should know about me: I rock at Trivial Pursuit, but can rarely remember my own cell number or zip code :-)

Rob has written 23 articles for us.